Dar back in Pakistan after 5-year self-exile; vows to take country "out of economic vortex"

Dar, who had been in self-exile since 2017 after being accused in a corruption case, told the media after landing at Nur Khan Airbase that he would "take this country out of the economic vortex "

Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @KesooMalKheealD
Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @KesooMalKheealD


Ishaq Dar, the former finance minister of Pakistan who is once again set to take charge as the new financial czar, has vowed to take the cash-strapped country out of the economic vortex, the media reported on Tuesday.

The senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday returned to Pakistan from London with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who following a meeting with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, announced the appointment of 72-year-old Dar as the incoming finance minister.

Dar, who had been in self-exile since 2017 after being accused in a corruption case, told the media after landing at Nur Khan Airbase that he would "take this country out of the economic vortex."

"We will take Pakistan out of the economic vortex like in 1999 and 2013-14, there is a lot of hope that we will go in a positive economic direction, the three-time finance minister said.

The senator-elect is expected to take the oath of the upper house of parliament on Tuesday, Geo News reported.

Miftah Ismail, who had been handling the cash-strapped country's economy since April this year -- when PML-N led coalition government took charge following the ouster of then-prime minister Imran Khan in a dramatic no-confidence motion -- handed over his resignation to Nawaz Sharif on Sunday to pave way for Dar's appointment.

Ismail, who handed over his resignation to the elder Sharif, said: I worked to the best of my ability for four months, and remained loyal to the party and the country.

A PML-N in a statement said that Nawaz Sharif, the former premier, who is out of politics due to a conviction in corruption cases but whose decisions are considered binding on the party, appreciated the efforts made by the outgoing finance minister for carrying out the responsibilities under the tough economic challenges .

The resignation came after it was formally decided in the party meeting that the crisis-hit country, also reeling under the impact of the massive floods, needed a new finance minister and Nawaz Sharif nominated Dar for the tough job.

A source close to the Sharif family told The Express Tribune newspaper that Dar, who is also related to the elder Sharif as his son is married to one of the daughters of Nawaz Sharif, would first take the oath of his Senate seat and then be sworn in as the finance minister.

"Whatever comes first, Dar becoming a senator or a finance minister is irrelevant at this point, as he has already started preparing for the mammoth task at hand, he said.

Dar would take up the responsibility with or without officially taking charge of the office, he added.

The two main targets given to Dar by the former premier are to bring down inflation and decrease the dollar-rupee parity, the source said.

Dar served as finance minister when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister and later faced corruption charges but went out of the country before evading conviction.

Dar's return to Pakistan has been made possible after an accountability court in Islamabad suspended on Friday the arrest warrant against him in an alleged corruption case in which he was declared a proclaimed offender.

Earlier on Monday, a plea seeking the disqualification of the PML-N leader was withdrawn from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the petitioner said he would approach a higher forum to pursue the case.

Advocate Azhar Siddique, who had filed the plea earlier this year seeking disqualification of Dar, said: "I want to withdraw the present petition with permission to file fresh if so needed."

Siddique's assistant counsel, Muhammad Shoaib, told the ECP that his client would approach a higher forum for further pursuance of the case.

The ECP had on Monday reserved the verdict on a petition seeking to declare Dar's Senate seat as "vacant" over his failure to take the oath as Senator in March 2018.

Under an ordinance, promulgated by the president, the seat of a lawmaker would be deemed to have become vacant if the member failed to take oath within 60 days, an ECP member earlier observed at the hearing.

Ismail said his job was to "save Pakistan from default and I did that. With the floods, the situation has become more challenging but I have faith that we will not be abandoned by the international financial community. I hope the gains made and the fiscal space created will be retained in the long run.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on August 29 approved the release of a USD 1.17 billion tranche to the cash-strapped country, providing much-needed budgetary support to meet fiscal and external deficits.

Despite the disbursal of the IMF tranche, the economic situation remains precarious, as the depleted forex reserves stood at only around USD 7.7 billion as on August 24.

The devastating floods, which have left more than 1,600 dead and displaced more than 30 million persons, added to Pakistan's forex woes, with an estimated loss of over USD 28 billion to the economy.

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